Coronary artery disease is the condition in which your heart develops problems that prevent blood flow in the main blood vessels (coronary arteries) that supply blood, oxygen and nutrients. Cholesterol-containing deposits (plaque) and inflammation in your arteries are often responsible for the development of coronary artery disease.
Plaque buildup narrows the coronary arteries and reduces blood flow to your heart. Consequently, reduced blood flow can cause chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, or other signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease. A complete blockage can lead to a heart attack.
Coronary artery disease often develops over many years. You may not see any problems until you have a significant blockage or heart attack. However, coronary artery disease can be prevented and treated. A healthy lifestyle can have a huge impact on preventing the development of coronary artery disease.
Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms
If your coronary arteries are narrowed enough to interfere with blood flow, your heart cannot provide enough oxygen-rich blood flow. At first, the decreased blood flow may not cause any symptoms of coronary artery disease, but as plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, signs and symptoms of coronary artery disease may develop, including the following.
Chest Pain (Angina)
You may feel pressure as if someone is standing on your chest. This pain, called angina pectoris, often occurs in the middle or left of the chest. Angina pectoris can often be triggered by physical or emotional stress.
Angina pectoris usually resolves within a few minutes after stopping the stressful activity. In some people, especially women, this pain can be felt sharply in the neck, arm or back.
Shortness of breath
If your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs, you may feel short of breath or extreme tiredness.
A completely blocked coronary artery causes a heart attack. The classic signs and symptom of a heart attack are severe and persistent squeezing chest pain, especially on the left side of the chest. This type of chest pain usually spreads to the back, left arm-shoulder, neck, midline of the abdomen and chin. This pain is usually accompanied by additional complaints such as sweating, nausea, vomiting, feeling bad and fear of death. However, it should be kept in mind that sometimes heart attacks may not have a very obvious symptom or sign.
When to See a Doctor?
If you think you have a heart attack, call 112 immediately and call an ambulance. If you are unable to reach the medical service urgently, have someone drive you to the nearest hospital. Use the option of driving to the hospital yourself as a last resort.
If you have risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, diabetes, family history of coronary artery disease, obesity, you should talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis with some tests will be life-saving in coronary artery disease.
Causes of Coronary Artery Disease
It is thought that coronary artery disease sometimes begins with fat streaking on the inner layer of the coronary artery in the early stages, such as childhood.
There are hundreds of reasons for the development of coronary artery disease, including the following.
Diabetes or insulin resistance
When the inner wall of an artery is damaged, fat deposits (plaque) composed of cholesterol and other cellular waste products tend to accumulate at the site of vascular damage in a process called atherosclerosis. If the surface of the plate is torn, blood cells called platelets collect at this site to repair the artery, and when they reach a size that can interfere with blood flow, they cause a heart attack.